Home iOS Apple’s Privacy Nutrition Labels, available now and good for business

Apple’s Privacy Nutrition Labels, available now and good for business

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Apple today is introducing iOS 14.3, and among a host of improvements the upgrade introduces Privacy Nutrition Labels for apps sold at the App Store. This should be good for developers, enterprises and users.

What are Privacy Nutrition Labels?

Apple announced Privacy Nutrition Labels at WWDC 2020. Under the scheme, developers selling apps on the App Store must explain the privacy practices of each one they sell. That means detailed information concerning what data they collect, why, and what they do with it must be provided to users in the form of what looks like a food nutrition label.

The idea is that users — including you and your employees — can engage in deep review of the privacy practices of apps you may permit use of on enterprise devices.

The scheme is only now being rolled out. Apple has asked developers to provide this information with their app since Dec. 8; while apps already available in the store don’t have to have it, as developers roll out updates, they’ll be expected to include where data is being used and in what category (including financial and personal data).

It’s not just third-party developers who must include such information. Apple is offering this information on pages for its own downloadable apps and also provides detailed privacy information on all its applications at its website.

Why it’s good for developers

Most developers gather little or no data. What information they do collect usually relates to app functionality and is often quite limited in scope — most of the time.

There are developers who collect vast amounts of data concerning their users, and sometimes this information extends far beyond app functionality. Almost without exception, you’ll find those developers complaining about Apple’s privacy focus are the same ones who harvest these vast quantities of data about you and your employees.

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What has made things a little unequal is that smaller developers offering functionality that doesn’t infringe on privacy have been limited in how they can explain this – particularly if what their app does is replicated by a less privacy-focused developer with a bigger marketing budget.

Apple’s Privacy Nutrition labels gives developers who do respect user privacy a clear and visible way to express that commitment — there’s even a logo that shows when an app gathers no user data at all.

With a little luck, it’s possible those developers who have not considered user privacy until now may become more motivated to do so as users migrate to more privacy conscious alternatives, changing how their apps work in order to regain space in the circle of trust.

Why it’s good for users

Apple has tried to make it easier to surface this kind of information by, for example, making it possible to review specific permissions granted to apps to use the camera and microphone on your device(s). However, even this insight doesn’t provide a sufficiently complete picture to enable users to make smart choices around privacy protection.

App Privacy labels change this.

Copyright © 2020 IDG Communications, Inc.

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